Thule third quarter sales increased 18.5% globally to SEK 864 million ($112.8 mm) compared to SEK 729 mm ($97.4 mm) last year. Thules profitability increased with EBITA climbing 12.1% to SEK 120 ($15.7 mm) compared to SEK 107 mm ($14.3 mm) last year. Sales were led primarily by strong double digit growth in Thules EU trailer division, but the North American subsidiary also bounced back from a relatively slow start to the year and posted a 13.6% revenue increase (up 16.2% in Swedish currency) to $25 million compared to $22 million last year.
In an exclusive interview, Fred Clark, president of Thule Inc., told BOSS that the automotive channel, which is primarily retailers like Pep Boys and Canadian Tire, was negatively impacted by higher energy costs. However, the company recently inked a deal with LEER, a brand of pickup truck caps and tonneaus. Thule will be the exclusive supplier of roof rack products for LEERs line of fiberglass truck caps. The companies will also cross-promote each other through their websites, collateral materials, and other marketing efforts.
Mr. Clark also said that growth through the sporting goods channel was very strong with good results through every type of retailer. Watersports carriers were the strongest products with sales of the Hullivator adding “considerable revenues.” Premium roof-top boxes were up in the mid double digits and roof-top racks were also strong. Many of these trends are likely driven by rising gas prices as consumers down-size cars and look for more add-on storage space.
Clark pointed out that the strong summer selling season is coming later each year, with consumers buying product closer to the time they are going on vacation similar to the back-to-school and holiday delays many retailers experienced this year and last. Looking ahead, Thule expects to grow overall sales by roughly 10% this year to SEK 3 billion ($391.8 mm), and continues to pursue further acquisitions.